Saturday, September 19, 2015

I Interview Playwrights Part 788: Jason Pizzarello


Jason Pizzarello

Hometown:  Sherman, CT

Current Town:  Queens, NY

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  I’m working on a new play based on my experiences in the military (thus far). It’s a comedy. Obviously there’s a lot to take seriously but most men and women in the military also have a wicked sense of humor. Jaded perhaps, but hilarious. As a playwright, I’m trying to find the balance between honoring my fellow Soldiers and making them laugh. But also making it okay for those not in the military to be able to laugh. It’s tricky. I think the theater especially can present this kind of work, but I don’t know, maybe not. I was in Afghanistan most of last year with the National Guard and I’m still trying to process the experience really. So maybe it’s me.

Q:  Tell me about Stage Partners.

A:  Stage Partners is a new licensor/publisher/home for plays that serve young artists and audiences.

Morgan Gould and I started this company with the idea that the process of selecting plays, especially for schools, should be easier and quicker. That’s the reason why we offer the full play to read on our website. Yes, the plays are literature and are respected and protected, but ultimately we (authors) want our plays to be produced. Reading the play is the key to unlock that door. So why not keep the door unlocked? We also offer printable PDFs and speedy licensing. All said and done you can be rehearsing, scripts in hand, the same day you decide to do it.

I hate when people refer to plays for young actors or audiences as “kiddie plays.” I don’t like the term amateur either. These groups desire to have plays with certain requirements (like a shorter length, large cast, gender-flexible roles) but we never condescend to them. Neither do any of our writers. We believe in writing professional plays for everyone.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  My dad’s a landscaper and my siblings and I would often be doing work in our yard with him. At the time it felt like a chore, although I’d do it today in a heartbeat. One day (maybe I was 8 or 9), after I had finished weeding, I was heading inside. He got really upset with me. Not angry, but stern. I thought I was done, but he expected me to ask if there was anything else he needed. He told me “you don’t say ‘I’m done,’ you say ‘what else can I do?’ That really stuck with me and shaped my work ethic. It applies to all aspects of my life and especially my writing process. Be humble and do the work. Don’t settle.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  I feel like every time I want to see a show, the ticket prices are too expensive. I’m not a student and I’m over 35 so maybe I’m just supposed to have more money? But I guess they have to pay rent, too. It’s the same road block when self-producing in New York City. Rent is too damn high!

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  On a personal level my theatrical heroes would be my writing buddies because they write on despite the enormous risk of failure. Failure is just not an option for them. It’s not even a thing that exists. There’s only process, only steps forward.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  The kind of theater that isn’t afraid to be odd. Odd, dangerous, and funny. And of course theatrical. I particularly enjoy magic realism and black farces. Sounds like some kind of theatrical witchcraft. I want to laugh and experience a philosophical shift, and I want it to be unexpected. Is that too much to ask?

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  Find or make a writers group. Writing can be lonely and frustrating and at some point or another you start to question whether or not what you’re doing (being a writer) makes any sense at all. That’s when your buddies will lift you up or slap you and get you back in the game. Ideally they also give smart feedback on new work.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Stage Partners!
www.yourstagepartners.com

New Play Exchange!
https://newplayexchange.org/users/419/jason-pizzarello

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